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Chelation refers to a type of bonding of ions and molecules to metal ions. The process describes a chemical reaction in which certain molecules bind to metal atoms, such as arsenic, calcium, copper, iron, lead, or mercury.

Chelating drugs bind with metals so that they can be excreted from the body. Such drugs are commonly used in conventional medicine to treat iron overdoses, lead poisoning, and other heavy metal poisonings. Practitioners of chelation therapy believe that many disorders are the result of excessive metal in the body even when the patient was not exposed to the metal and blood tests do not show high levels of metal. For that reason, chelation therapists may treat several disorders with chelating drugs.

Thus, while chelation therapy is used in conventional medicine for the treatment of metal poisoning, it is also used as an alternative treatment option for other conditions, such as heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, autism, multiple sclerosis, and other health problems.

In chelation therapy, a chelating agent is introduced into the body through an intravenous drip or oral pill. After entering the bloodstream, the chelating agent binds to certain molecules, such as metals or minerals, taking them with it after urination removes them from the body.

Common chelating agents include EDTA (diamine tetra-acetic acid), which is used to remove calcium, copper, iron, and lead from the blood, as well as Dimercaprol (arsenic, copper, gold, mercury), Succimer (arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury), Deferoxamine (copper, zinc), Penicillamine (copper), and Deferasirox (copper, lead, zinc).

Although the FDA has only approved prescription chelation therapy for metal poisoning, it is used for the treatment of other ailments in alternative medicine. However, chelation therapy for uses other than metal toxicity is not taught in conventional medical schools, and practitioners who use it for other purposes are known as naturopathic, or alternative medical, practitioners.

Side effects that have been attributed to chelation therapy are most common when high doses are used, and may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue, flu-like symptoms, gastrointestinal disorders, headaches, high blood pressure, low blood pressure, seizures, vomiting, and weight loss. In some cases, the therapy can trigger more serious side effects, including dehydration and kidney damage.



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